I'm trying to get involved in an open source project and I am feeling a little lost for several reasons:
- I've been reading the project's mailing list, but its a fairly large and complicated project with many contributors and I'm having a difficult time keeping up with everything that is going on.
- I've been lurking in their IRC, but like I said, I'm having a hard time gleaning useful information that I can apply to making an actual contribution.
- I'm having a hard time identifying what work needs doing by browsing their issue tracking system for many reasons (is the bug legit / should the feature be worked on, is it feasible that a person unfamiliar with the codebase could resolved the bug / feature in an acceptable time, would I be stepping on someone's toes to take a given bug or feature, etc).
- The project has many exacting coding guidelines and rules regarding contributions, and I'm worried about screwing something up when contributing.
I've been thinking about asking in the IRC or perhaps the mailing list if someone could provide guidance / mentorship by helping me identify some work to do and also helping me through the process of contributing.
More 'senior' engineers mentoring the less experienced in this way has been a common thing I've seen on the professional teams I've been a part of, but I am totally unfamiliar with the open source dynamic.
Is 'mentoring' common on an open source team? Am I out of line in asking for someone to spend their time helping me in this way? Would it be a waste of time trying to get a 'mentor' to help introduce me to working on the project? Would it be better to take a different approach toward getting involved in the project? Does it vary from project to project, or the contributors who work on a project? Please share your experiences with this matter.